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Centennial Portraits

Datsyuk, Conacher portraits unveiled

Color paintings of 100 Greatest NHL Players will be revealed on NHL.com every Monday in 2017

NHL.com @NHL

As part of the NHL Centennial Celebration, renowned Canadian artist Tony Harris will paint original portraits of each of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian as chosen by a Blue Ribbon panel. NHL.com will reveal two portraits each Monday in 2017.

This week, the portraits of forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Charlie Conacher are unveiled in the 31st installment. 

In his 14 NHL seasons, all with the Red Wings, Datsyuk won the Stanley Cup twice -- in his rookie season in 2001-02 and as a member of a team filled with All-Stars in 2007-08.

He won the Selke Trophy three times as the NHL's best defensive forward, and the Lady Byng Trophy four times.

Datsyuk, nicknamed the "Magic Man" for his highlight-reel moves, won or tied for Detroit's scoring lead in six consecutive seasons from 2003 to 2010, and was among the NHL's top five scorers twice, with consecutive 97-point seasons in '07-08 and '08-09. He had 918 points (314 goals, 604 assists) in 953 regular-season games, and 113 points (42 goals, 71 assists) in 157 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

But, as author Stu Hackle wrote in Datsyuk's NHL100 profile, offense was only one part of his game.

Video: Pavel Datsyuk won Stanley Cup twice with Red Wings

"'He's a player who probably doesn't fulfill his offensive potential because he's so committed defensively,' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said in the book '100 Things Red Wings Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die' by Kevin Allen and Bob Duff. 'He's as hard on the backcheck as he is chasing the puck on offense. His hockey IQ is off the charts. He has incredible will and determination. He's irreplaceable.'

"'If he scored no goals and had no assists, he'd still be one of the best players in the League,' Don Waddell, then Atlanta Thrashers GM, told Sports Illustrated. 'He's one of the all-time best at playing both ends of the ice.'

"That 200-foot talent placed him in the debate over who was the NHL's best player of the new millennium. Was it Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby? The other three routinely outscored him, but his coach had no doubt.

"'If you're down a goal in the last minute, who do you want out there: Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin or Datsyuk?' former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. 'Any of them. But if you're up a goal in the last minute and need to protect the lead, who would you want? You'd want Pav.' "

Harris said Datsyuk was a special player on so many levels, and he wanted to capture all his traits in the painting. 

"As a hockey fan, Pavel Datsyuk was a player you had to watch. He was so dynamic and skilled that even when on the penalty kill he was the most exciting player on the ice," Harris said. "In this portrait, I hoped to capture his intensity and speed."

Conacher, the second captain in Toronto Maple Leafs history after Clarence "Hap" Day, possessed the most fearsome shot of the 1930s.

He was the Stanley Cup with the Maple Leafs in 1931-32, and he was the NHL's leader or co-leader in goals five times between 1930-36. Playing on Toronto's legendary "Kid Line" with Joe Primeau and Harvey "Busher" Jackson, he led the League in points twice, more than a decade before the Art Ross Trophy was introduced to honor the scoring leader.

The Toronto native played for the Maple Leafs from 1929-30 through 1937-38, before he signed for a season with the Red Wings and played the final two seasons of his NHL career with the New York Americans.

In October 2016, Conacher was voted No. 11 on a list of the top 100 Maple Leafs, as chosen by a panel and a fan balloting, having been elected to the Hall of Fame in 1961, six years before he died of cancer at 58.

Video: Charlie Conacher was known for his powerful shot

In his NHL100 profile of Conacher, NHL.com columnist Dave Stubbs wrote about the night his booming slap shot did some serious damage to an opposing goalie.

"Never was Conacher's shot more frightening than in the third and final game of the 1932 Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers, with Toronto steaming toward a sweep.

"It was midway through the second period at Maple Leaf Gardens when Conacher unleashed a drive at Rangers goaltender John Ross Roach."

Toronto Star sports editor Lou Marsh described the scene in the next day's edition:

"'It was a period that almost ended in tragedy,' Marsh wrote. 'Young Chuck Conacher, 205 pounds of TNT, let one of his smoking shots go from away over the fence just inside the blue line.

"'Roach, as game as a badger, threw himself in front of the sizzler and it hit him under the heart. The terrific impact drove him back into the nets, but he straightened up again and the puck was cleared.'

"'Then he slowly dropped his stick, struggled a second with his gloved hands at his throat, and silently folded up and dropped to the ice. He looked like a man shot through the heart.'

"'There was a moment's awed silence and then a rippling groan as Roach stiffened out on the ice,' Marsh continued. " 'It looked as if the popular Port Perry (Ontario) netman had been killed for he lay without a move. It was a solar plexus blow -- a shock to the big motor center of the body. It took Roach five minutes to recover.'

"'When Roach staggered back to his feet, Conacher skated over to him. It's reported he said to his rival and old friend, 'Don't worry, Johnny, that's the last high shot you'll see from me tonight.'"

Harris said the painting of Conacher -- even though it does not feature him in action -- conveys the type of player he was. 

"I love this photograph of Charlie Conacher and I find that these pictures taken in the 30s are a great resource," Harris said. " I feel that even though there is no action in them the image still tells a story and speaks volumes about the player and the era they played in."

 

Pavel Datsyuk

 

 

Charlie Conacher

 

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